The internet came naturally to me as a millennial. I got my own computer at age 12, started using Facebook at 14 and got my first smartphone at 17. It’s true that my generation spends a significant amount of time staring at screens, so marketers target us with their digital advertisements online because that’s where we always are. That makes sense, right? Well here’s the problem with that: we see so many digital ads every day that we just scroll right through them without noticing. We get so many junk emails that we just delete them without opening it. And the commercials that we’re forced to watch when we click on a YouTube video are so annoying that we just close the browser because it’s not worth it. In short, digital ads don’t get our attention.
I check my mailbox every day when I get home and it’s usually empty, except for a few exceptions when I receive mail from a company that I have done business with before. It was cool because getting mail was uncommon for me. Marketers think direct mail is obsolete to us millennials, but that’s not true. Direct mail still resonates well with the millennial generation. Opening the mailbox and seeing a physical personalized letter that someone took the time to create and send out just for us is uplifting. We take these letters, read them, and retain information from them much better than an automated computer message.
According to research from the United States Postal Service, our brains react differently to printed mail than electronic. Digital content is processed very quickly by consumers, but they will spend more time with physical printed ads. Direct mail triggers a part of the brain that handles value and desirability and leaves people thinking “ooh, I like that,” which emails do not. Statistics show that direct mail campaigns require 21% less cognitive effort and have a 70% higher recall rate than digital ads.
Although direct mail has a better response rate, digital should not be ignored. Multimedia can be incorporated into direct mail through QR codes that link to interactive media like videos or the company website. Companies can also enhance their direct mail with scents, textures and unique shapes to make them stand out.
Marketers would be wise not to make the mistake of taking direct mail out of campaigns that target millennials. The infrequency of delivery, textural quality and personalization makes it all the more special to us.